Hyundai Cancer Institute Associate Spotlight: Julene Schenk, Case Coordinator

For more than 20 years Julene Schenk has been caring for cancer patients at CHOC Children’s. She began her career as a bedside nurse and charge nurse in the hospital’s oncology division and became a case coordinator in 2008. As the neuro-oncology case coordinator, Julene works one-on-one with patients and their families to help them throughout their cancer treatments.

“I love working with my patients and their families,” Julene said. “I have the opportunity to teach them all about their treatment process and chemotherapy regimens. I also advocate for them and help to alleviate any stressful problems that may come up along the way.” Julene also works with the family’s insurance company to ensure that treatment and accompanying therapy are covered.

The Neuro-oncology Treatment Program at the Cancer Institute uses a team approach to treat patients. The team, led by Violet Shen, M.D., is made up of multidisciplinary specialists including a social worker, clinical research nurse, neuropsychologist, nurse practitioner, dietitian and child life specialists.

“Our team approach makes the care we provide exceptional,” Julene said. “We work very closely with one another and have a great rapport. The most important people on any patient’s treatment team are the family. Because a patient’s family is that child’s best expert, parents and caregivers are involved in every step of the treatment process.”

To learn more about the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s, please click here:

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Hyundai Cancer Institute Associate Spotlight: Sharon Bergeron, Research Educator

The Associates who work with the patients at the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s are second to none and this month we are proud to shine a spotlight on the amazing people who make the Cancer Institute great.  All of our Associates, from our oncologists to our physical therapists to our child life specialists, are specially trained to provide our pediatric cancer patients with the support they need during and after treatment.

At the Cancer Institute at CHOC, our nurses receive ongoing education on the unique medical, emotional and social needs of our patients. Sharon Bergeron, RN, BSN, CPON, leads the charge in ensuring our nurses are equipped with the latest information and tools needed to provide our patients with the superior care CHOC is known for. As a research educator, Sharon is dedicated to providing our nurses with the latest news and information available on pediatric cancer treatment, including our cutting-edge clinical trials.

“Over a span of almost 30 years, I have been deeply touched by the many patients and families I have helped cared for through the ups and downs of the cancer treatment journey,” Sharon said.  “It is with this knowledge and experience that I teach other pediatric hematology/oncology nurses what I know about caring for these children so that I can create an environment that allows nurses to provide the highest level of nursing care and flourish in their role. In addition, I work hard to provide an educational environment that encourages nurses to demonstrate independent and critical thinking skills so that they can deliver care yielding excellent patient outcomes and a high level of job satisfaction.”

CHOC Children’s is a magnet hospital, which means that nurses are able to work in an environment that supports the nursing practice and provides them access to the tools to flourish in their careers. We empower our nurses to focus on professional autonomy, decision making at the bedside and obtaining and maintaining nursing certification in their specialty.

Sharon’s role as a pediatric hematology/oncology expert and educator is deeply valued both at the Cancer Institute and in the medical community at large.  She is actively involved with Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses (APHON), the Southern California Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses (SCAPHON) and the Children’s Oncology Group.  She is also editor of APHON Counts, a national newsletter publication for the APHON membership and received the Kathy Ruccione Founder Award for Excellence in Pediatric Oncology Nursing in May 2011.

To learn more about the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s, please click here:

CHOC Sports Medicine Program Opens Irvine Office

With year-round sports participation and an intense competitive environment, Orange County’s young athletes are at greater risk for injury, particularly overuse syndrome.

Comprehensive sports physical therapy services are now available much closer to home for South Orange County athletes. The CHOC Children’s Sports Medicine Program has opened a new office in Irvine to provide sports medicine physical therapy for school-age children and precollegiate teens.

“We are addressing the many issues associated with competitive youth sports, including preseason screening for injury prevention, nutrition, sports psychology and physical rehabilitation,” says CHOC Children’s pediatric orthopaedic surgeon John Schlechter, D.O. “Our goal is to work in conjunction with primary care physicians in order to provide the best care for athletes.”

The CHOC Children’s Sports Medicine Program, the only one of its kind in Orange County, is supported by CHOC cardiologists, pulmonologists, allergists, neurologists and neurosurgeons.

To learn more about the services available through the CHOC Children’s Sports Medicine Program in Orange and Irvine, please call 714-289-4054 or click here:

The CHOC Children’s Sports Medicine Program Irvine office is located at 980 Roosevelt, Suite 100.

Help Your Kids Stay Active This Summer

Summer. Time for camp, water parks…and weight gain? A recent study suggests that for the youngest students, summer months may be worse than the school year when it comes to packing on extra pounds.

Just like adults, kids need to balance the calories they eat with the calories they burn to prevent extra pounds. That means healthy eating and an hour of physical activity on all or most days of the week. To get you and your family started, check out these healthy summer tips:
• Plan active vacations. Take a trip to the mountains and hike. Or, bike around your neighborhood.
• Limit TV time to two hours a day or less. Encourage your kids to go outside and play.
• If they’re interested, sign your kids up for a summer sports league.
• Cut out snacks with little nutritional value, like potato chips. Offer whole-grain crackers, yogurt, fruits and vegetables.
• Limit soda and sugary fruit drinks, and offer your family skim milk or water instead.

For more tips, check out Kids Health magazine on

Tips for Teen Drivers

Do you have a new driver in your family? While it can be an exciting time, the latest teen driving statistics are pretty sobering.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, although teen drivers (ages of 15 and 20) constitute almost 10 percent of all licensed drivers, they are involved in 12 percent of fatal motor vehicle-related crashes. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a 16-year-old driver is more than 20 times as likely to have a motor vehicle crash than any other licensed driver. In fact, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 16- to 20-year olds?

Our CHOC Children’s Community Education Department has put together some safety tips for teen drivers, passengers and parents:

As a driver:
 Wear your seat belt and insist that passengers also wear theirs. In California, a driver can still get a ticket if their passenger is not buckled up.
 Crash risk is particularly high during the first year that teenagers are eligible to drive. New drivers have elevated crash risks, especially for teens younger than 18.  Young drivers are at greater risk for injury and death because they lack judgment that comes with maturity and skill that comes with practice.
 It is ok to tell passengers, “Please do not distract me while I’m driving.” Research shows that a teen’s risk of being involved in a crash increases greatly with each peer passenger in the car.
 Pull over to use your cell phone or have your passenger answer it instead.

As a passenger:
 Always wear your seat belt. As children get older, studies show their seat belt use rates tend to decline.  Parents tend to overestimate their teen’s seat belt use rate. 
 Respect your driver. Be helpful by reading directions, avoid talking loudly, or playing loud music.
 It is ok to refuse to get in a car if you think it is an unsafe situation. Develop a code word.  Calling or texting your parent with a previously agreed-upon code word that signals trouble can help teens get out of an unsafe situation. 

As a parent:
 Get involved! Involved parents who set rules and monitor their teens’ driving behavior in a supportive way can lower their teens’ crash risk by half.
 Know the law. Many youngsters are eager to know when they can get a driver’s license.  In California, they must be at least 16 years old to be eligible for a provisional driver’s license.  There are special restrictions and requirements for drivers under 18.  For more information, visit 
 Be a good role model. Follow the rules of the road, do not talk or text on your phone while driving.  Make sure you’re not speeding or tailgating.
 Create a Passenger Agreement with your teen. By setting clear expectations, a Passenger Agreement can help reinforce key behaviors that keep teens safe as passengers now and as drivers later.

For more information from CHOC’s Community Outreach experts, please visit

Is Your Child Ready For A Sleepover?

Summertime sleepovers are a cherished rite of childhood. Those invitations may start arriving as early as kindergarten or first grade. Marni Nagel, Ph.D., a CHOC licensed pediatric psychologist, says some young children as young as ages 5 and 6 may be ready for them. Others may be more comfortable waiting until ages 7, 8, 9 or even 10 years of age.

You know your child best. “If your child has trouble sleeping through the night, is prone to nightmares, or has trouble adapting to unfamiliar situations, you may want to wait a bit,” Dr. Nagel says. “Also, you’ll want to be sure your child is capable of basic self-care skills, such as putting on pajamas, brushing the teeth and getting dressed the next morning.”

Dr. Nagel recommends trying a “pretend” sleepover in a sibling’s bedroom or in a tent set up in the backyard. See how your child handles sleeping in a different place, by seeing first how they do it within a familiar environment.

Next, transition to a family member’s house, such as Grandma’s house. It may be helpful to send along an older sibling, too.

This can be a nice transition for 5 to 7 year olds. Have your young guests come over and get into their pajamas. Then make popcorn and s’mores, and watch a movie. Do everything you would at a regular sleepover-except sleep. Have their parents pick them up by 10 p.m. It’s also great for those parents, too, because their children come home all ready for bed.

If you’re hosting, try a practice sleepover with one friend before doing an actual party with several kids. Keep a nightlight on in the bathroom, especially if you are hosting a sleepover for young children.

If it’s your child’s first slumber party at another house, ask about the schedule in advance. Find out what type of food will be served, what the activities will be, when bedtime is expected, and when your child will be picked up the next morning.

“Your child may find it comforting to know the schedule in advance. Taking along a special pillow or favorite stuffed animal and a small flashlight may also help,” Dr. Nagel says. “Of course, be ready to pick your child up if things don’t go quite as planned. There is always next time.”

Want more on Kids’ Health? Visit our website.

Teens, Texting and Driving

Summer is officially here – meaning summer vacation for most kids and teens! If you have a teen at home, he or she may be driving around more often than when in school. Talk openly with your kids about their cell phone use and the dangers of texting or calling while driving.

Did you know that drivers using cell phones to send text messages are six times more likely to crash than those concentrating only on driving, according to a study in the journal Human Factors? Know the Risks! For must-read tips for your teens, please click here: